According to the AG report, two co-founders of the women’s advocacy group Time’s Up helped New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office draft a letter to discredit allegations of sexual harassment by one of his accusers.
Cuomo’s staff reportedly sought the help of Roberta Kaplan, the founder of Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, and Tina Tchen, the CEO of Time’s Up, while drafting a letter denying the charges made by former Cuomo aide Lyndsey Boylan.
Boylan was the first of Cuomo’s accusers to come forward publicly in February with allegations that Cuomo had sexually harassed her, made comments about her appearance, and at one point asked her if she wanted to play a game of strip poker with him.
Tchen and Kaplan’s alleged involvement in Cuomo’s denial letter was revealed in Attorney General Letitia James’s report, released Tuesday, which found Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women.
In her 165-page report, James stated that a group of Cuomo’s advisers attempted to write a letter last December that “denied the legitimacy of Ms. Boylan’s allegations, questioned her credibility and attacked her claims as politically motivated.”
Staff of Governor Andrew Cuomo enlisted the help of Time’s Up co-founders Roberta Kaplan (left) and Tina Tchen in an effort to discredit sexual harassment allegations by former Cuomo aide Lyndsey Boylan
Boylan (pictured) was the first of Cuomo’s accusers to come forward publicly with allegations that he had sexually harassed her. In the weeks before she made the allegations public, Cuomo’s staff tried to draft a letter discrediting her claims, asking Kaplan and Tchen for help drafting it.
Top Cuomo Aide Melissa DeRosa testified that Cuomo initially drafted the letter by hand, although the governor testified that he “couldn’t remember handwriting a document,” but that he “participated in drafting.”
The letter was intended to be sent to former colleagues of Boylan and Cuomo to sign and then publish, possibly as an op-ed.
DeRosa testified that she had doubts about the letter and feared it would backfire, so Cuomo asked her to contact Kaplan for input.
“According to Ms. DeRosa, Ms. Kaplan read the letter to the head of the Times Up advocacy group.” [Tchen], and both would have suggested that, without the statements about Ms. Boylan’s interactions with male colleagues, the letter was in order,” James said in her report.
Time’s Up is a charity that raises money to support victims of sexual harassment, founded in early 2018, at the height of the #MeToo movement.
Cuomo’s staff, however, remained in doubt, except for Cuomo ally Steve Cohen, who had said it would be acceptable with some edits.
Cuomo can be seen with Tchen (second from right) in 2019, after the governor signed a statute of limitations extension for rape in the state. Tchen said her organization had worked with Cuomo on the legislation
‘Madam. DeRosa reported to the governor that Ms. Kaplan and the head of Times Up thought the letter agreed to some changes, as did Mr. Cohen,” the report said, “but everyone else thought it was a bad idea.”
DeRosa is currently represented by Kaplan’s firm Hecker & Fink LLP in the attorney general’s investigation, the report said.
Ultimately, the letter was never published after Cuomo’s staff couldn’t find enough people to sign it, James said.
“Several people whom the governor’s advisers have asked to sign the letter were not comfortable with what it said about Ms. Boylan,” she said in her report, adding that one said the letter amounted to ” victim-hammering’, and another commented: the whole thing berates her.’
In discarding the letter, Cuomo compared himself in his testimony to Abraham Lincoln.
Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa had enlisted Kaplan’s help in drafting the letter, who in turn had consulted with Tchen. Kaplan is now representing DeRosa in the attorney general’s investigation. Ultimately, the letter was never published
“He made a comparison with Abraham Lincoln’s apparent habit of handwriting a lengthy response to an article that infuriated him, then crumpling the response and throwing it away,” the report reads. “The governor testified that, like Lincoln, the writing process was cathartic for him.”
Jill Basinger and Boylan’s attorney said on Wednesday she and her client were “appalled” that Cuomo’s staff would enlist the help of female attorneys in their efforts to undermine her allegations.
“We were shocked, only shocked that the people who were asked to protect survivors, the organizations that were set up to help people, were armed against Lindsey,” Basinger said in an interview with the Washington Post. “She didn’t know there were so many people against her.”
Kaplan replied, saying that her input was that the letter would in no way shame Boylan.
Tuesday’s attorney general’s report found that Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women
“While it appears that the answer was never published, I made it very clear that any answer should never disgrace a prosecutor,” she told the Post. “Given the revelations in the New York Attorney General’s report, I support and agree with Time’s Up that Governor Cuomo should resign.”
Tchen said she did not remember the details of the letter regarding what she had discussed with Kaplan, but denied participating in an attempt to discredit an accuser.
“You cannot make any attempt to attack or discredit anyone who has come forward with accusations,” she told the outlet. “If those parts existed in what was read to me, I would have said, ‘Don’t say that.'”
In a statement sent to the Hollywood reporter Tchen further doubled in her attitude.
Before accusations were made against Governor Cuomo, Time’s Up worked with his administration in 2019 to approve Time’s Up/NY’s security agenda. In December 2020, Tina was asked to provide her perspective on a public response to Ms Boylan’s allegations,” she told the outlet.
“While Tina made no recommendations on what to do, she shared the stance that Time’s Up has always taken on these matters. It was clear to her that any response from the governor’s office to the allegations would be inadequate and unacceptable if the experiences of the women who came forward were not acknowledged, and that it would in no way shame or discredit the women. bring.’
Details of the attempt to compose the letter discrediting Boylan’s allegations are contained in the attorney general’s 165-page report.